Restaurant review: Penne Restaurant & Bar at The Hilton Inn at Penn

Master Sommelier Marco Avigo from Penne at Hilton’s Inn at Penn (Photo: Jacquie Kubin)
Master Sommelier Marco Avigo from Penne at Hilton’s Inn at Penn (Photo: Jacquie Kubin)

University City, Philadelphia — For a truly enjoyable dinner, perfectly paired with a variety of fine Italian and world vine wines, visit Penne nestled on the lower floors of Hilton’s Inn at Penn where large windows let in plenty of late afternoon sunshine and offer a bustling streetscape views.

Here at Penne, Master Sommelier Marco Avigo offers his expertise pairing wines from a deep wine list that is well aged and that has a Tuscan – Super Tuscan wines that focus on Italy’s finest grapes.

Tonight’s dinner was focused on traditional pasta dishes made from Chef Roberta Adamo’s recipes based on recipes developed making pasta at her grandmother’s side.   Here the pasta from Chef Adamo’s kitchen is the result of a chef undertaking an artful approach to her chosen culinary genre.

Dinner, served in a family manner to highlight the Provençal inspired cuisines, began with a salad from the sea with delicately poached salmon nestled amongst the spidery fronds of the Insalata con Salmone dressed with cucumber radish and chive-crème fraiche.   For the antipasti course, a classic Carpaccio di Pomodori combined thin slices of yellow tomato “Carpaccio” with Prosciutto de Parma, the rich dry-cured ham from the Italian city of Parma.  The robust ham is pared with the sweet cream of house made mozzarella dressed in capers and basil vinaigrette.

With these dishes, Master Avigo served Valdiveiso Extra Brut champenoise (Chile). A straw colored wine with classic aromas and light carbonation, this crisp wine paired beautifully with the rich, sweet salmon and crème fraiche as well as the fat-ribboned, salty prosciutto.

A lovely choice for a light starter wine that fully supported the dishes without competition.

With late summer around in the air the brilliant green from the asparagus pesto sauce atop the Ravioli Primavera visually heralded a dish of richly filled house made pasta stuffed with Kennett Square mushrooms and potato, finished with reggiano cheese and truffled asparagus.  This particular dish has a recallable salt that was pleasant on the warm day and paired with the Torrontes Blackriver, a dry white wine with crisp aroma and very smooth mouth feel that hails from the Rio Negro region of Argentina.

Stepping back to Chile, a Sauvignon Black Terranoble accompanied a Cavatelli con Ragu’ Di Salsiccia featuring light, moist cavatelli pasta married with hearty Italian Sausage Ragu’ then generously dusted with a dry salty Pecorino cheese.

Another red pasta dish, Linguine al ragu’ Di Pesce has fresh house made linguine tossed with shrimp, scallops, calamari, fresh tomatoes and vegetables to create a dish that momma would serve on Sunday.   Once again, the deftness of the sea salt to the dish enhanced the acidic tomatoes and rich seafood.

For this dish, Master Avigo offered a Tormaresca Neprica, an Italian wine that is rich with an overlying smoothness and density to the wine.  This varietal boasts a mix of negroamaro, primitivo and cabernet sauvignon grapes giving the wine a full body with wonderful fruits as well as the slightest of spicy notes.  All together it creates the perfect accompaniment for rich pastas that are layers deep, such as this linguine.

Each of the wines served fully supported the dish and the pairings allowed extremely value-oriented wines to meet their fullest merit.  I am not sure that they would have served as well with other dishes, but for the sea salted, home made pastas of Penne, they worked very well.

Each wine is worth learning more about and incorporating into your wine rack.

This fine meal, and a delightful day touring Philadelphia was finished with a trio of deserts, an amazing lemon tart with fresh blueberries and minted sorbet, a dish of mango, chocolate and blueberry sorbet with a rich vanilla bean ice cream and a decadent chocolate mousse with strawberries and a crisp, dry biscotti.

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